The Youth Employment Crisis: Time for Action

Published on


It is the youth employment crisis - and the unprecedented proportions it has assumed - that prompted the Governing Body of the International Labour Office, meeting in March of 2011, to put this topic on the agenda of the 101st Session of the International Labour Conference for a general discussion. While there is broad consensus that the Conference’s 2005 resolution concerning youth employment remains entirely relevant, there is a renewed sense of urgency for action. In countries severely affected by the global financial crisis, youth unemployment has reached staggering proportions. To have four out of every ten young people unemployed is a social and economic catastrophe. The global financial crisis has aggravated the pre-existing “crisis before the crisis”. Across the world, young women and men face real and increasing difficulty in finding decent work. Over the last two decades, youth unemployment on average has remained at three times that of adult unemployment and, in some regions, this proportion is now as high as five times the adult rate. This report is composed of four chapters. Chapter 1 reviews the characteristics of the youth employment crisis in its quantitative and qualitative dimensions across different regions and countries, and discusses new emerging challenges, such as educated unemployment and the increasing “detachment” of youth from labour markets. Chapter 2 analyses the patterns of interventions and policies implemented by countries around the world since the last general discussion. It highlights the key lessons that can be drawn from the experience of, and the responses to, the global financial crisis. It covers a broad range of the policy areas included in the conclusions of the Conference’s 2005 discussion, ranging from macroeconomic considerations to labour market policies and programmes, entrepreneurship development, rights and labour markets institutions, social protection and other factors affecting the demand and supply and the quantity and the quality of employment. This integrated analysis across the Decent Work Agenda applies the ILO Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization, 2008, principle of integrated, inseparable and mutually supportive objectives. It highlights the significance of policy coherence and coordination at national and global levels to tackle the youth employment crisis. It also points to a major deficiency - that of limited voice and participation by youth themselves in forging their present and future. Chapter 3 briefly reviews the International Labour Office’s strategy of support to constituents, developed since 2005, and the main global and regional partnerships focusing on youth employment. Chapter 4 presents the conclusions emerging from this review and analysis, and points to some possible ways forward.

Available languages